May 31, 2011

Catching Up

It's been a fantastically action-packed holiday weekend, full of wild kayaking, beautiful weddings, and good company.  Of course, now that I'm back in the office, it's time to catch up.  So, here's a little peacefulness to help ease back into things!

Happy Tuesday!

May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day!

Growing up in Michigan, Memorial Day weekend signified the unofficial start of summer.  The boats and barbecues came out, swimsuit shopping commenced, and school let out (soon enough!).  When I moved to the Bay Area a number of years ago, I was thrilled that it was warm enough to do most outdoor activities year round.  There's no snow to keep you from bicycling in the winter.  The lakes and bay don't freeze over, so you can go kayaking in February.  And even at its coldest, you can always throw on a jacket and a pair of fleece gloves to go for a hike.  It's one of my favorite things about living here.

The funny thing is this: most people in California still consider Memorial Day weekend to be the beginning of summer.  As of last Friday, hundreds of boats were suddenly pulled out of storage and trailered to a favorite lake.  Propane tanks and charcoal flew off the shelves, and countless burgers and hot dogs were grilled to perfection.  Swimming pools were uncovered, and pool parties abounded.  The celebration of summer began in full force.

So, here's to the unofficial beginning of summer!

May 27, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Trader Joe's and My Desk

I'll readily admit that I'm not much of a cook.  Baking is something I'm pretty good at (desserts are my specialty), but cooking, not so much.  Plus, when you're generally pressed for time, spending a hour or more making dinner just isn't in the cards.

Enter Trader Joe's.  The smaller stores make grocery shopping quick and easy-- there are only three types of mustard to chose from, as opposed to most larger stores with whole shelves dedicated to the yellow condiment.  They have tons of prepared entrees, too.  Pre-seasoned steaks and chicken, pork florentine and hams.  All goodness.  Combine that with some fresh, pre-cut veggies, and you have a delicious, nutritious meal that comes together in twenty minutes.  Then there's dessert.... Not always as nutritious, but definitely delicious!

So, diamonds to....
- Trader Joe's.  For allowing us to eat good meals without slaving away in the kitchen for hours.
- B&H Photo.  Great gear and fast shipping!

Coals to....
- My desk.  For not magically straightening itself overnight.  Alas, my piling system needs a revamp.

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

May 26, 2011

Jodie + Al - Vacaville Estate Wedding

As they prepared in separate hotel rooms just two floors away from each other, Jodie and Al felt the excitement of their Big Day build.  Al was calm, as always, relaxing in his room with his best man and longtime friend, Terry.  Jodie's room was abustle, with hair and makeup for her and her girls, and she held back tears of joy as she slipped into her dress.

A little while later, in downtown Vacaville, Al's calm broke as he nervously waited for Jodie to arrive.  When she finally stepped out of his black Mercedes and walked across the bridge to him, he smiled.  They met at the end of the bridge, took each other's hands, and gazed lovingly at each other through teared-up eyes.  Now that they were together, they relaxed and were ready to enjoy their wedding day hand in hand.

Jodie's vision for her wedding day was simple elegance, and her dress was just that!  With a fitted mermaid skirt and buttons running down the back, it's one of my favorite dresses to date.

Because of the simplicity of her dress, Jodie chose an ornate pearl-and-crystal necklace to accent her neckline, and it was a perfect combination.

I loved Jodie's "something blue!"  She carried the blue enameled fan pin and a borrowed lace handkerchief with her bouquet, and placed an actual silver sixpence in her shoe.

 Jodie, I know you already know this, but you look absolutely stunning!

Al was his usual handsome self as well, and I love his pink-and-navy paisley tie, and pink crystal cufflinks.

Jodie and Al chose to have a First Look (which I lovelovelove!), and saw each other before the ceremony for a photo shoot in downtown Vacaville.

After a heartfelt ceremony and family portraits, the reception fun picked up with dinner, toasting, cake and dancing.  During the celebration, Madison, daughter of Jodie and Al's best friends, performed one of their favorite songs.  She's not yet a teenager, but she has an amazing voice and is incredibly talented on the piano!

I loved Jodie and Al's cake.  The sugar scrollwork perfectly accented their elegant cake topper, and the flowers added a wonderful pop of color.

Jodie and Al, your wedding day was so gorgeous, and so are you!  I'm so honored to have played a part in your celebration, and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you both!  Love and happiness... Erin.

May 25, 2011

Adventure Camera - Tomales Bay

Josh and I don't take "normal" vacations.  Most people head off on vacation to relax.  We head off on vacation for an adventure.  Our honeymoon, for example, was a series of backpacks and camping in our truck.  This summer's vacation will be paddling the entire 72 miles around Lake Tahoe.  Since we've only taken day trips in our kayaks, we figured it would be a good idea to try camping with the boats before we embark on a four-day excursion, so we headed on over to Tomales Bay for a quick overnight trip.  We paddled out in some of the windiest conditions ever, and camped right on the beach, just above the high-tide line.  We had great views from the campsite, especially at sunrise...

Overall, it was a great trip at one of my favorite places in the Bay Area, and I can't wait to paddle Tahoe!

May 24, 2011

Sneak Peek - Lake Tahoe Engagement

In the spirit of keeping up a little theme this week, here's a sneak peek from Angela and Paul's Lake Tahoe engagement shoot... Enjoy!

May 23, 2011

Adventure Camera - Tahoe Sunset

Lately, I've had Lake Tahoe on my mind.  With an amazing engagement shoot on the west shore just recently, several upcoming weddings around the area, and planning our own vacation paddling the lake, Lake Tahoe's been hard to escape.  (Though why you'd really want to escape it, I'm not sure!)  One of the couples getting married up in the mountains will be saying their vows right on the beach at sunset-- truly romantic!

This reminded me of another Tahoe sunset right around the same area.  Josh and I had gone up to the lake for a ski vacation, and happened to be in South Lake Tahoe just as the sun started setting.  As Josh drove us to the beach and found parking, I had my camera at the ready.  We headed across the snow-covered beach to capture one of the most gorgeous Sierra sunsets I've seen.

Shea and Gus, this one is for you-- I hope your sunset is just as gorgeous, though without the snow!

May 20, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Viruses and Curtains

After months of putting it off, we finally bought new curtains for our bedroom.  This was a big deal because we're a walking home-improvement disaster.  Just ask me about The Great Electrical Incident and I guarantee you'll agree.  Thankfully, this project just involved switching out the current curtains for new, light-blocking ones.  See, our neighborhood bumped up the wattage of the light bulbs used in the sidewalk lights to something like 4 million Watts, and sadly, one of those lights is right in front of our house, making it feel a little like one of those movies where the police helicopter is hovering over the suspect's house with a spot light trained on the windows.  Great if you want to wander around the house at night but don't want to turn the lights on, not so great for a good night's sleep.  I will say, though, with the new curtains, the dark has returned to our house, and I'm sleeping like a baby again.  Yay!

This week's diamonds go to...
- New curtains.  Because I like to sleep.  In the dark.
- Plastic folders.  I destroy folders like there's no tomorrow.  Hopefully this new poly one will hold up to the abuse.

Coals to....
- Viruses.  For getting Josh and I sick earlier this week.  Yuck.
- The weather.  I know the weather spends a lot of time on this list, but really, 30-knot winds this weekend?  Seriously?

Have a wonderful weekend!

May 19, 2011

No Dogs

A few weeks ago, during Stephanie and Rick's engagement shoot in Stinson Beach, we stopped through a playground for a few photos.  On the entrance gate, we found this sign:

Our initial reaction was "How cute!"  Until we realized that the shark had chomped the little red dog in half.  Hmm... I guess they're really serious about keeping dogs out of that playground...

Have a happy, shark-free Thursday!

May 18, 2011

Toy Lenses

Some time ago, in building my quiver of lenses (yes, I have enough lenses to call it a "quiver"), I picked up a LensBaby Muse.  The Muse is what's commonly referred to as a "toy lens."  It's relatively inexpensive, doesn't have a focusing motor (you adjust the focus by squeezing the lens with your fingertips), and produces selective-focus images, which are very, very cool.  When I first bought it, I loved it, and used it every chance I could, but then things got busy, and I haven't loaded it up lately.  Till now.  I pulled out the Muse to take some photos of the flowers my totally awesome Grandma sent me for my birthday, and I'm in love all over again.  My goal is shoot with it more often, like once a week or so, so we'll see how that goes.  In the meantime, enjoy a few more flowers!

Happy Wednesday!

May 17, 2011

Wedding Trend - Grooms in Suits

Lately, I've seen more and more grooms wearing suits on their Big Day, and it's a trend that I'm simply in love with.  There's nothing like a man in a well-fitted suit.  It looks snazzy, elegant, and always unique.  I posted about grooms' attire a while ago, and figured I'd elaborate a bit more on the suit aspect.

My favorite thing about a groom in a suit is the fit-- suits are tailored to perfectly fit just one person (and that person should be the groom!), rather than the semi-tailored one-size-fits-most rental tuxedo experience. Mind you, I like tuxes just fine, I've just heard a lot of rental tux horror stories.  Unless you're like my husband, who did actually own his own tux in college, a suit is the only way you'll get a truly customized fit.  With a suit, the sleeves and pants are the right length, the shoulders fit well, and the pants aren't too tight or too loose.

Another great reason to wear a suit is variety of colors, styles and options.  Suits come in every color under the sun (trust me!), and the styles and patterns of shirts, ties, cufflinks and belts is endless!  It allows the groom's personality to come out a bit more (just like you and your dress, girls!), and his attire can better complement the whole wedding day style, whether it's an elegant estate wedding, a chic winery event, or even a fancy country club affair.  A suit is entirely appropriate for just about any wedding.

Here are a few of my favorite suits from recent weddings.... "'Cause every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man!"

Happy Tuesday!

May 16, 2011

Sneak Peek - Yosemite Engagement Shoot

Well, it's Monday, and I'm so excited about the last couple days' shoots!  Here's a quick sneak peek at last week's Yosemite engagement shoot with the totally awesome Wanny and Mike!  More to come soon, including a vintage 1947 Indian motorcycle!

Happy Monday!

May 15, 2011

Just Diamonds - Birthdays

My favorite quote of all time was spoken by the illustrious Warren Miller: "If you don't do it this year, you will be one year older when you do."  Those words inspire me on so many levels to go out, go for it, and live life to the fullest.  Of course, when you do turn one year older (my birthday was Monday), it inspires a good bit of reflection, too.  And, I have to say, after 31 years, I love where I am, where I'm going, and I wouldn't change a thing!  This last year has been our busiest yet, and I couldn't have done it without my wonderful, amazing, out-of-this-world husband, who, incidentally, always makes my birthdays just plain great.  Over the past years, my birthdays have been a trip to Vegas, surprise whole-wheat pancakes (Yum!),  the camera that inspired me to start a business, and various outdoor adventures.  This year, it was the "Ten Days of Birthday," and I got to open one gift a day until my birthday, when we celebrated by going out to my favorite restaurant, and then for ice cream.  It was just plain perfect.

So, this week's diamonds go to....
- Josh.  For being so darn wonderful and supportive, and making me fall in love him more every day.
- Birthdays.  I like any excuse to celebrate, and birthdays always have ice cream!
- Loard's Ice Cream.  Their Almond Joy ice cream is a birthday gift all on its own.

This week's coals.... well, there aren't any!

Have a wonderful weekend!

May 13, 2011

Birthday Flowers

Each and every year, my wonderful Grandma, who lives back in Michigan, sends me flowers on my birthday, and each and every year I look forward to a solid week of shooting flowers in various states of bloom.  I love to pull out the macro lens, and focus on capturing the details of each flower.  On the first day or two, I usually manage to leave the flowers in place in their arrangement, but by the third day, I just can't help myself, and I end up pulling the flowers in full bloom out to be photographed on a solid background.  (Don't worry, Grandma, I put them back after!)  This year, as I was shooting away with my macro lens, I thought I'd have a little fun, and halfway through, I switched to my LensBaby Muse.  For those of you who don't know (ok, pretty much everyone outside the Wonderful World of Photography), LensBaby makes selective-focus "toy" lenses.  They're a ton of fun, and create some really neat effects in your images.

So, without further ado, here are the photos!

These first two were taken with my macro lens.

And here are a few more with the Muse....

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed shooting with the Muse, so I think just may start myself a little personal project... More to come soon!

May 11, 2011

Wedding Trend - Colored Sashes

In this day of truly personalizing your wedding, I'm seeing many brides incorporate colored sashes into their wedding day accessories, and I love it!  It's a great way to add a splash of color and additional interest to your dress, and it's super flattering.  A sash can be anything from a simple grosgrain ribbon tied with a bow, to an embroidered and beaded satin number that reaches the floor and stretches out over the train of the dress.  They can be tied in front, to the side, or in back, and can be secured with bows, simple "lay-over" knots, or even broaches.  Plus, since a sash is removable, you can wear it for only part of your Big Day.  Many brides wear a simple white sash during their ceremony, and then switch to one that coordinates with their color scheme for the reception.  Alternatively, a longer, more intricate sash can be worn for the ceremony and portraits and then removed for dancing during the reception.

Here are a few examples of what can be done....

For her country estate wedding, Jodie wore an elegant, embroidered and beaded train-length sash for her ceremony, and simply removed it for her reception.  She wore it just under the empire waistline of her gown, and tied it in back with a simple "lay-over" knot.

Anne's ceremony was in a church, and she opted to wear a simple white grosgrain ribbon tied to the side at her waist.  She finished the bow off with a sparkly rhinestone and pearl broach, and replaced the white ribbon with a pink one for her country club reception.

Like Ann, Shannon wore a white sash for her ceremony, and switched to a deep eggplant-colored one for her reception.  Shannon's sashes were made for her dress, and included beading along the front, and hooks to keep them in place.  She tied both at the back in a simple but elegant bow.

Those are just a few ways to use sashes to incorporate a little color into your wedding dress-- there are many more, so be creative, and above all, be you!

May 10, 2011

Adrienne + DJ - Crissy Field Engagement

When Adrienne and DJ met in high school, they had no idea that their lives would be entwined from that point on.  Over time, they fell in love over baseball rivalry and working at the same company.  Later, when DJ proposed, Adrienne, of course, said yes, and the rest is history!

Adrienne was born in San Francisco, and the city holds a special place in her heart, so we headed over the Bay Bridge for their engagement shoot.  We started off in one of my favorite shooting locations, the Palace of Fine Arts.

I love stairways, and on our way over to Crissy Field for a wardrobe change and some photos on the beach, we found this fantastic brick one, and stopped for a quick photo.

Adrienne and DJ are both huge baseball fans, and root for rival teams!  Adrienne backs the Giants, and DJ, having grown up in Concord, supports the A's.  They pulled out their jerseys to show some spirit, and the rivalry began!

It's hard to look mean for long when you're in love, though, and soon the smiles and laughter were back...

A quick wardrobe change later, we were headed into a gorgeous sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge.

I just love this one, even though the heart really shows DJ's love of the A's..... :)

Adrienne and DJ, I had a great time ducking in and out of the wind and cold with you!  You're such troopers, and I can't wait for your wedding in December!

May 9, 2011

Spring Strawberries

Every spring around this time, the produce stand on North Livermore Road opens.  They sell a few other vegetables and fruits, but mainly, they grow strawberries, and during the harvest, the whole area smells heavenly.  The produce stand is along one of our main bicycling routes, and after a couple days of smelling the berries while out on our bikes, we had strawberries on the brain.  I thought a few times about buying some while out on a ride, but there was the problem of where to put them on a bicycle (as Josh said, I'd probably have strawberry jam by the time I got home!).  So, last week, we finally hopped in the car and drove on over, and bought ourselves a flat of strawberries (what can I say, we're strawberry fiends!).  They were some of the most delicious strawberries on earth-- there's nothing like the buttery goodness of freshly picked, naturally ripened strawberries.  They almost melt in your mouth, and are so juicy that napkins are a must.

So, here's to spring, when the days are the perfect mix of warmth and briskness, and the berries are deliciously sweet!

Happy Monday!

May 6, 2011

Diamonds + Coals - Haircuts

As much as I would love to believe that I am the type of girl who can get up every morning and blow dry and style her hair, I'm not.  My style is really low-maintenance, as far as my hair is concerned.  Every so often, though, I decide to delude myself, and head over to my stylist with visions of high-fashion hair in my head.  I get a tres-chic cut, and manage to style it for about two weeks.  Then it sort of falls by the wayside, and I spend months figuring out how to manage it until it grows out.  My last experiment with high-maintenance hair finally grew out, and I went in for a nice, low-maintenance, no-blow-dryer-necessary trim this week.  Love it.

Diamonds to....
- Haircuts.  A trip to the salon is sort of like a trip to the spa for me (love the head massage!), and walking out with new hair puts a definite spring in your step.
- Finding your signature haircut.  A great cut makes you feel great.  Every day.

Coals to....
- Growing that experimental cut out.  It's fun for a little while, but then it gets old.  Oops.

Have a fantastic weekend!

May 5, 2011

New Shoes

Much like just about every other girl out there, I am a shoe fanatic.  I love love love shoes.  However, I generally hate shopping for them.  Somehow, wearing a size 10-narrow doesn't really make finding shoes that fit comfortably all that easy.  Early this week, though, it was decided that I needed a new pair of flats, and the hunt began.  I did some research online (of course!), and then headed on over to Nordstrom (what can I say, they have a fabulous shoe department!).  Just as I turned into the mall parking lot, Paolo Nutini's song "New Shoes" came on the radio.  Now, I'm no more superstitious than the next person, but when something hits you over the head like that, I say it must be fate.

With "New Shoes" echoing in my head, I marched right into Nordstrom, chose a few cute flats, and tried them on, confident in the fact that this was going to be the easiest shoe shopping trip ever.  Lo and behold, my shoes of choice fit and were on sale!  I was on cloud nine.  I purchased the shoes and headed home, thrilled with my luck.  Yay for new shoes.

"Hey, I put some new shoes on, and suddenly everything's right..."

May 4, 2011

Stephanie + Rick - Muir Woods and Stinson Beach Engagement

When I first met Stephanie and Rick last fall, I knew instantly that we were a match.  They are simply my type of couple-- a little quirky, a lot fun-loving, and totally and utterly in love.  And when I found out that Stephanie shares my love of stinky cheeses, well, that sealed the deal for me!

Stephanie and Rick grew up in Marin, so we headed to a few of their (and my) favorite places for their engagement shoot-- the Muir Woods and Stinson Beach.  It was a foggy day in Marin, and the whole coast seemed totally socked in.  Fortunately, both of our locations were below the fog layer, and the lighting was gorgeously soft and flattering.  We started shooting in the Muir Woods, and the primitive, awesome feeling of the redwoods complemented the tenderness of Stephanie and Rick's love perfectly!

Something about this image makes me smile.  I think it's love.

 A quick wardrobe change and a very foggy drive later, we were touring the town of Stinson Beach, and, of course, the beach!


Stephanie and Rick, I had such a wonderful time with you, and I simply can't wait for your Big Day!  It's going to be out-of-this-world amazing, just like you two!

May 3, 2011

Adventure Camera - Kayaking Corkscrew Slough

Josh and I have a list of places we want to kayak.  Josh being Josh, this list is held in a spreadsheet, and we find new places and routes to add to the list with every trip we take.  One of the places that's been on that list for quite a while is Corkscrew Slough, near Redwood Shores.  It's an interesting place-- a juxtaposition of nature and civilization.  The islands that the sloughs slice through are actually reclaimed salt ponds, and in many places, you'll be paddling in the midst of harbor seals and birds and reeds, but can still see the giant LCD billboards lining Interstate 101.  It's pupping season, so many of the seals had tiny pups swimming along side of them.  Incredibly cute, but you wouldn't believe some of the noises they make when they want something!

At one point during our paddle, we looked across the bay and saw these very square-like boats that seemed to be moving much too fast.  We watched them for a few minutes, wondering what type of boats they could be.... until we realized that they were cars driving across the San Mateo Bridge.  Seeing the world literally from sea level definitely gives you a different perspective on things, and always makes us feel very small.

Have a wonderful day!

May 2, 2011

Sneak Peek - Vacaville Estate Wedding

It's Monday morning, and somehow another week, weekend and gorgeous wedding has just flown by!  Wedding season is in full swing, and a country estate in the hills was the perfect place for Jodie and Al's springtime wedding.  Here's a sneak peek to kick off your week!

Happy Monday, everyone, and congratulations to Jodie and Al!